(FOX NEWS) It was an August morning two years ago when Maggie, a spry, 7-year-old border collie, slipped through the backyard fence of her family's suburban Oregon home. Minutes later, she was dead – her neck snapped by a body-gripping trap set by the U.S. government less than 50 feet from the home she shared with the four children who loved her.
"It is an image that will never leave me," Maggie’s owner, Denise McCurtain, of Gresham, Ore., said of her death. "She was still breathing as we tried to remove the trap. Her eyes were open and she was looking at me. All I could say was 'I’m trying so hard. You didn’t do anything wrong.'"
Maggie’s death at a minimum was one of hundreds of accidental killings of pets over the last decade acknowledged by Wildlife Services, a little-known branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that is tasked with destroying animals seen as threats to people, agriculture and the environment. Critics, including a source within the USDA, told FoxNews.com that the government’s taxpayer-funded Predator Control program and its killing methods are random -- and at times, illegal.
Advertisement - story continues below